Written by Gene Carmickle
November 22 2010

Fellow OHV and ATV'rs,
The number of ATV owners has grown over the years and our sport is faced with some stark possibilities unless we take the time to exercise our rights and let our voices be heard. Let me relate some interesting statistics to you...
  • In 1997, there were 3.9 million ATVs (66%) and 2.0 million OHMs (off-highway motorcycles)(34%)
  • In 2002, there were 800,000 ATV sales (73%) and 300,000 OHM sales (27%). That's almost 2200 ATVs sold per day nationally. OHM sales are flat.
  • From 1997- 2002, OHV sales have increased 171% in the West (355% in California)
  • The average ATV rider age is 40, OHV is 30.
  • About 70% of use is on weekends
  • ATV riders are 90% male, OHV riders are 95% male
  • In households that participate in OHV recreation, there are 2.9 riders.
  • According to USDA Forest Service, the number of OHV recreationalists in US:
    • 5 million in 1972
    • 20 million in 1983
    • 28 million in 1995
    • 36 million in 2000
  • 72% ride on public lands
  • In Maricopa County, Arizona which is the 3rd poorest county in the state, 90,000 ATVs were sold last year.

These are some interesting statistics and they have a direct effect on you as an ATV user. Despite the growing numbers of ATV users the amount of area in which we are permitted to ride is decreasing every year. Due to the efforts of several extreme environmentalist organizations, (ie: The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, etc.) areas such as the Imperial Sand Dunes in Yuma are being illegally closed by the BLM due to misinformation and misguided assaults on the ATV society. "I don't use the dunes" you may say so how does this affect me? The dunes aren't the only areas being put in the crosshairs of these organizations and some affect you directly. Not only are these organizations attempting to close public lands to ATV use the Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and state bureaus are taking a close look at land use and misuse by ATV enthusiasts and are earmarking several areas for possible closure if they are not managed correctly. Examples are the Upper and Lower Sycamore Creek areas, Camp Creek Wash, Vulture Mine area, among others.

What can you do you might ask? All too often we sit on our hands until it's too late, our rights are taken away, areas are closed. Then we bellyache about how unfair it is and why isn't something done about it. All too often we leave it to someone else to fight our battles saying we don't want to be bothered then when something happens we scratch our heads and wonder why or complain about the perceived injustice. So to answer your question, "what can I do?" Let's look at the spectrum of possibilities;

Arizona has an umbrella organization called AZOHVC (Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Coalition) which is aligned with the NOVHC (National Off Highway Vehicle Coalition). It serves as a focal point and parent organization for over 100 OHV clubs and organizations throughout the state of Arizona. These include ATVs, biking, dirt bike motorcycles, Jeeps and 4WDs, and other forms of OHV entertainment. There are organizations such as Tread Lightly, The Blue Ribbon Coalition, and the ARRA, which lobby and fight with government agencies and against the extreme environmentalist organizations to prevent the elimination of our access to public lands for OHV entertainment.

But the simplest way is to join one of the local ATV clubs in Maricopa County, one of which is us, The Dirty S.O.B.S. ATV Club. Don't panic about the name, it's an acronym for Southwest Offroad Badboys (and girls) Society. Relax and know that we just like to get dirty riding because it's the nature of our hobby. The Dirty S.O.B.S. ATV Club is an incorporated non-profit organization formed for the collective enjoyment of riding with friends and for fighting to keep our public lands and trails open. Membership in our club is $25 annually for a single person membership and $35 annually for a family membership. We have monthly member-led rides, BBQs, and a monthly meeting. Proceeds from your membership dues not only support the day to day operation of the club (fees, office supplies, advertisement, etc.) we also contribute to the organizations that are fighting our battles for us. We also liason and partner with dealerships and other clubs to present a united front. Membership also allows you anywhere from 5% to 15% discount at participating dealers and outfitters on parts, service, and accessories. Even if you don't ride with us often your dues go to a good cause that benefits you.

So you can sit back and do nothing then wonder what happened when they close down your favorite riding area or you can contribute to help keep your hobby alive by joining us and contributing. I hope you choose the latter.

Best Regards and happy and safe riding,

The Dirty S.O.B.S. ATV Club